Mask Your Web Server for Enhanced Security
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by Joe Lima
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Combing Through the Stacks
Even when all telltale signs are removed from your Web server's application layer, there remain detection weaknesses at lower network layers. Any server with a network connection has a network protocol stack subject to being scanned and identified. The best stack scanners (like NMAP from insecure.org) can ID most operating systems by using a variety of techniques to fingerprint the system's TCP stack. OS-specific IP stacks are also vulnerable to detection via the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP), used by the popular Ping utility. Good resources on ICMP vulnerabilities can be found here. The first line of defense against these kinds of network scanning vulnerabilities is a good, well-administered firewall. However, careful network analysis can still identify a box by examining the packets a firewall must permit a Web server to pass through in response to HTTP requests.

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